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Second-oldest Black bank in U.S. receives $80M federal infusion to help small businesses 

M&F Bank in Durham, North Carolina, got help from the Treasury, which cited the pandemic’s disproportionate impact.

A 115-year-old bank founded at the turn of the 20th century to help African Americans navigate the tremendous challenges in their fight to participate in the U.S. economy is getting a much-needed cash infusion. 

Mechanics and Farmers Bank — known as M&F Bank — has received $80 million from the U.S. Treasury as part of the agency’s Emergency Capital Investment Program, according to the Charlotte Observer. 

M&F Bank in Durham, North Carolina, America’s second-oldest Black-owned bank, has received a sorely needed $80 million cash infusion from the U.S. Treasury Department. (Photo: mfbonline.com)

Per the Treasury’s press announcement, the program “will provide up to $9 billion in capital directly to depository institutions that are certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) or minority depository institutions (MDIs) to, among other things, provide loans, grants, and forbearance for small businesses, minority-owned businesses, and consumers, especially in low-income and underserved communities, that may be disproportionately impacted by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

M&F leadership said it “will allow us to build on our recent successes by providing even more ways for us to support small businesses in our community.”

“This investment,” said M&F president and CEO James J. Sills II in a statement Wednesday, “is a testament to the strength of the M&F Bank franchise, the health and soundness of the Company and its abilities to positively impact disadvantaged communities within its markets.”

The Observer notes that America’s second-oldest Black-owned bank had been operating at a net loss since 2017 and serving an aging population. However, in the wake of the 2020 protests for racial justice, the bank attracted new interest, including from local companies that wanted to play a part in preserving the bank’s legacy and mission of providing competitive and holistic financial solutions, with particular emphasis on the financial needs of underserved populations and geographies.

“The key is that we continue what we were founded to do,” Sills told the Observer, emphasizing that M&F “is here to work with everybody in the community. We have customers of all ethnicities and we’re focused on small business owners. We really, we really want to help everybody grow their business.”

According to the report, 2021 was M&F Bank’s most successful year on record, and if it continues along its current trajectory, it could reach $1 billion in assets in the coming years. 

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